Mmm…Chicken Pot Pies

I came across some mini pie tins the other day, 6″ across rim to rim and about 1-1/2″ deep.  Perfect for individual sized pot pies.  Mrs J made some pie crusts the other day and saved them to the fridge. They were from the same recipe we’ve had so much luck with lately.

The pictures will pretty much tell the tale-but they can’t reproduce the aroma of the tarragon from the simmering chicken thighs.  Seriously, get some dried tarragon and use it in your next chicken dish.  Mmmm

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Mmm…Mushroom Soup

I had a few mushrooms rapidly turning less than fresh so I decided to use them up.  I looked for a mushroom soup recipe and turned this one up, it looked nice enough though I didn’t want to use the food machine to chop them up.  Took a few other liberties with the ingredient list but nothing radical.  The soup turned out pretty good, but the highlight of the meal was the crouton topping.  I diced a few slices of my experimental “hearty loaf of bread” and toasted them in a skillet with butter and olive oil.


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French Onion Soup

Mrs J called from the store the other day, asking if I needed anything in particular she could pick up.  I was thinking a big Vidalia onion to slice up for the pizza I was working on so I asked her to get one or two.  She came back with an entire bag, saying that they didn’t have them per each.  Vidalias are great onions, but they don’t keep long so today I made the entire lot of them into onion soup.  First time I’ve ever made it so I Googled a few recipes.  Found the Alton Brown recipe that I had seen him make on his show but it called for stuff I didn’t have on hand.  Went with this one today. Minor changes only, not worth mentioning save for the switch from red and yellow onions to the sweet, sweet Vidalias.


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Food In Fiction: Pot Roast

Our book: One For The Money, by Janet Evanovich.  Our hapless heroine:  Stephanie Plum. I’m kind of going out of order in the book because of the Pineapple Upside -Down Cake.  The pot roast comes much earlier in chapter one, when Stephanie must break the news to her parents that she has been unemployed for 6 months.  This is when her father suggests she work for her cousin Vinny, not as a bounty hunter but as his file clerk:

Just the career move I’d been hoping for – filing for Vinnie.  Of all my relatives, Vinnie was my least favorite.  Vinnie was a worm, a sexual lunatic, a dog turd. “What does he pay?” I asked.

As for the pot roast, Stephanie explains the importance of pot roast in the burg:

Food is important in the burg. The moon revolves around the earth, the earth revolves around the sun, and the burg revolves around pot roast.  For as long as I can remember, my parents’ lives have been controlled by five-pound pieces of rolled rump, done to perfection at six o’clock.

Since this blog is all about good food easy, this pot roast recipe is for the slow-cooker.  Put it together in the morning, turn it on and come home to a complete meal.  And if your daughter, husband, wife or crazy grandmother is late, no worries, this one won’t dry out.

Slowcooker Pot Roast

  • 2-3 lbs chuck roast
  • ¼ to ½ cup water or beef broth
  • splash of red wine
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
  • ½ tsp salt & pepper
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 6 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 1 lb bag baby carrots


Optional: coat roast in1 tbsp flour and brown on all sides in 2 tbsp oil in skillet before adding to slowcooker. Nice, but not necessary for great flavor.

Add roast and liquid to slowcooker. Sprinkle rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, salt & pepper on top of roast. Add in order: onion, potatoes and carrots (this keeps carrots from over cooking). Cover & cook according to your slowcooker directions (they vary considerably) usually 8 to 10 hours on low.

Spicy Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup

We are expecting a 30 degree temperature drop tonight, so I thought another pot of soup would be welcome to get us through the colder days of rain and snow showers.  Soup is one of those wonderful things that you can just throw a bunch of whatever is in your kitchen into a big pot and come out with something tasty.  That is how this one was born – I had a package of stew meat and a can of diced tomatoes…..

Spicy Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup

  • 1 lb chuck, cut into small cubes (or stew beef)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cup corn (I use frozen for both of these)
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/3 cup barley
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp Cajun or creole seasoning (I mentioned in an earlier post I have a great Cajun restaurant, which makes and sells their own blend)
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • olive oil

large saucepan

Heat oil in saucepan, sauté onions for 1 minute, add beef and brown on all sides, add remaining ingredients (in order is helpful) and bring to a low boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until barley is tender.  Serve with biscuits or cornbread.

Bean With Bacon Soup

Our spring weather is about to turn cold and rainy tomorrow, so my mind turns back to soups.  This is one of my favorites and so easy:

Bean w/Bacon Soup

  • ½ lb bacon
  • 4-14 oz cans white navy beans*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt (more as needed)
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 5 cups water

Dutch oven or large saucepan

Cut bacon strips into eighths, fry in saucepan until tender, not crisp. Drain all but 2 tsp of drippings, then add beans, spices & water. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, reduce heat and let simmer 30 minutes. Before serving, using a potato masher (or hand blender), mash beans slightly to make creamy. Add more salt & pepper if needed.

*You can use 1lb dry beans, just soak  overnight, drain and rinse.  Cooking time will be a bit longer – simmer until beans are tender.

Chicken breasts in a wine sauce–Cheese stuffed pasta shells

I had a few shells left from a previous dinner, and some thawed chicken breasts so I decided to use them up.  First the stuffed shells.  Boil the pasta as directed and then cool them under running water.  Stuff the shells with the cheese mixture and douse with your tomato sauce.  Cook the shells in a 350 oven for half an hour, then sprinkle on some mozzarella and parmesan and heat for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese browns on top.

The cheese mixture was just plain ricotta, I started with about one and a half pounds and added garlic and onion  powders, and dried herbs: basil, parsley, and oregano.  I didn’t add an egg or any other cheeses because I knew I didn’t have shells enough. (I had a 1lb-14oz container, sure enough I needed only just over half.)

The tomato sauce was simple too: onions sauteed in olive oil, some minced garlic added when the onions were about ready, and a can each of diced tomatoes and puree.  Mix in the usual dried herbs: I used basil, oregano, and a few small bay leaves.  Simmer it all while you stuff the shells.After removing the casserole from the oven, let it sit for 10-15 minutes.Back to the chicken.  Pound the breasts flat between layers of plastic wrap, dredge them in seasoned flour, and cook them in olive oil and butter over medium heat until they are browned on both sides. Cover and simmer until the chicken is done then remove the chicken to finish the sauce. Add white wine (and that half cup of Marsala I had left), maybe two cups or so, and whisk in an uncooked roux (flour and butter all smooshed together). When it looks right add the chicken back–to keep every thing warm cover until you are ready to plate the mealYou are better than I am if you can get things to finish all at the same time, not a problem with this meal.Plate it with some parsley garnish, and some toasted garlic bread sprinkled with Parmesan.


Chicken Noodle Soup

A little tired of being cold, but we received a lot less snow today than during any other snow storm this season, so I guess that’s reason to be grateful.  Made a big batch of Chicken Noodle Soup for lunches this week.   It’s quick and easy, add some biscuits and you’ve got a great dinner for a cold night.

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, 4 boneless thighs, cut into large cubes
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 tsp ea: basil, sage, rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 oz frozen sliced carrots
  • 11 oz pkg. frozen wide egg noodles, thawed

large saucepan

Heat oil in saucepan, sauté onion, add chicken and brown on all sides. Add water, spices. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Add carrots & noodles. Cook additional 15 minutes.

*You can cook this in a slow-cooker (according to slow-cooker directions, usually 8-10 hours on low) add carrots & noodles last 15 minutes of cooking (cook on highest setting), until noodles are tender.